Lynching Photo Used by Ind. Pastor to Compel Black Americans to Vote

A pastor is using an eyebrow-raising method to encourage people to vote in the presidential elections this coming November – by putting up a photo of a 1930 lynching of two black teenagers in Marion, Ind., outside his church.

The Rev. Joy Thornton, senior pastor of Greater St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church in Indianapolis, has said that the sign is a reminder of the rights black people have gained, and that they should never forget that things were not always the way they are now and take their privileges for granted.

"The sign is a reminder of what price has been paid for a precious privilege," Thornton said, according to The Asbury Park Press, "which is to vote."

The message of the sign itself is clear – "Vote!" is written in big bold letters at the top, and the question "Is this a reason to vote?" hangs beneath the image of the lynching.

Thornton said that the church had not received too many complaints, and he plans to keep the sign there "until the Lord says so."

He noted that even if some people are offended by the reminder of lynching, it would serve a good purpose if it brings up all the various issues African-Americans are facing today.

"I don't think it is as harsh as the fact that when we talk about African-Americans being murdered and killed at an alarming rate," the pastor said. "It's not as harsh as the fact we make up about 12 percent of the population and about 90 percent of the incarceration. It is not as harsh as the drugs that we are being exploited within our communities."

Thornton says that his church is multiracial, and isn't necessarily promoting any one candidate over another – especially since he says many people are displeased with President Barack Obama promoting same-sex marriage in May, which traditional churches stand against.

He only hopes, however, that more people will be encouraged to vote this election.

According to Pew Research, 2008's presidential election was the most racially and ethnically diverse in U.S. history, with nearly one-in-four votes cast by non-whites. The nation's three biggest minority groups, blacks, Hispanics and Asians, all accounted for unprecedented shares of the 2008 vote.

Pastor Thornton did not respond to The Christian Post's request for a comment by press time.